Shareholding cascades: the separation of ownership and control in Belgium
This paper analyses the control of Belgian listed companies. The analysis reveals that control of listed companies in Belgium is highly concentrated. Business groups, holding companies, and voting pacts, play an important role in bringing about this concentration. The main characteristics of the Belgian corporate ownership and equity market can be summarised as follows : (i) few - merely 140 - Belgian companies are listed on the Brussels stock exchange, (ii) there is a high degree of ownership concentration with an average largest direct shareholding of 45%, (iii)holding companies and families, and to a lesser extent industrial companies, are the main investor categories whose share stakes are concentrated into powerful control blocks through business group structures and voting pacts, (iv) control is levered by pyramidal and complex ownership structures and (v) there is a market for share stakes.
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